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Chiquita Fruit Solutions: Open Your Imagination


Chiquita Fruit Solutions offered product developers the opportunity to “Open Your Imagination” with a recent sampling program on their new Fruit Crumbles—a 100 percent natural, air-crisped fruit ingredient product with a wide range of surprising food applications.

To capture the attention of Chiquita Fruit Solutions’ customers and to stretch their imaginations, the sample packaging and its contents were designed to help expand the possibilities for customer applications.

Since the shipping box was the first piece of marketing collateral seen by customers, Chiquita Fruit Solutions followed industry best practices and made sure their company name and messaging was visible by labeling all four sides of the box with the Chiquita Fruit Solutions logo, a headline stating, “All Natural Fruit Crumbles,” and an application image with the text “Open Your Imagination.”

Contained in the box were well-labeled Banana Crumbles and Fruit Chips, Tropical Mix Crumbles and Fruit Chips, and Pineapple Rings. The sample package also included a brochure that provided customers with a list of product features, nutritional information and contact information to learn more about Chiquita Fruit Crumbles.

By following the industry’s best practices on sample packaging, Chiquita Fruit Solutions was able to reinforce their brand and deliver a targeted message to their customers—and hopefully open some imaginations.


How to Qualify a Sample Request


As a food ingredient company, one of the issues you will most certainly run into with a sampling program is qualifying those who place online orders. It’s not financially beneficial for you to send samples to companies or organizations that aren’t going to produce relevant business for you. So how do you qualify customers?

Kraft Food Ingredients (KFI) recently redesigned its online sample ordering system. To announce this to its customers, it distributed an email blast. The email drives you to the website to register and then place your sample order. The registration is pretty typical—asking for contact information and what products you would like to sample. What I found interesting about this system is what I received after I registered.

I received an email with an attachment that included a letter. The letter was sent from a generic “info” email address. KFI requests that you provide additional information about your company, the trade your company services, how KFI products would be applied to the products you manufacture, and an estimated annual quantity of pounds the project or company would require. This approach is unique and will surely solve the challenge of qualifying customers. What I would have liked to see done differently is for this letter to appear to come from and be signed by an actual person at KFI. (Note: the email address could still be a pseudo person for this purpose.) It may have also felt more personal and real if the text of the letter was in the body copy of the email, instead of in an attachment. We are often asked if requiring so much information from the customer will hinder them from requesting a sample. It depends how detailed you try to get. We think that if a customer is truly interested in your products then they will not hesitate to provide this information. One way to streamline this process is to request all this information at registration, and provide field boxes and dropdowns for completion as often as you can.


Bush is Single and Ready to Mingle

Bush Brothers unveiled a new online campaign directed toward consumers for Bush’s Baked Beans. It’s an online dating site where your protein of choice can find its side dish soul mate—its sidemate. As an already popular side dish, Bush is taking its baked beans to the next level by incorporating the popular food into dozens of side dishes. Visit the site at:

beansThe site is a consumer guide on ways to spruce up your side dish selection. It’s fun and user-friendly. Simply pair your protein of choice with its sidemate, based upon the desired experience you’re “seeking”—spice, snuggling, adventure, sweet, commitment or a fresh start. You’re then directed to four recipes that incorporate Bush’s Baked Beans and fit your desired characteristic.

For the consumers who don’t have a certain protein in mind, “sizzling speed dating” is a fast way to view some compatible couples. Click on the recipe slot machine and a protein is instantly paired with a side dish. You can click over and over until you find a pair you’re interested in tasting.

The site also reaches out to foodservice professionals by inviting them to enter their own recipes for a chance to win a high-grade grill or $5,000. Each recipe can be graded by consumers, allowing them to cast their votes and get a feel on a recipe’s popularity. Recipe grading follows the style of a typical personal ad, with options ranging from “You complete me” to “I’m sure it has a nice personality.”

Bush’s approach to incorporate its baked beans into innovative, taste-forward side dishes, is a successful tactic allowing Bush to expand on its product category, showing consumers the depth of baked beans as a pairing. The only thing we would recommend is to brand the site with the identifiable Bush’s Best logo. Still, it’s an interesting, fun approach on a recipe site that fully engages the consumer and will most likely lead to an increase in sales for Bush’s Baked Beans.


Product Sample Packaging

Product sample packaging offers an often overlooked opportunity for compelling customer communications. Nearly all food ingredient companies send out product samples to their customers and prospects. The most effective companies are the ones using their product sampling as customer communications programs.

Whenever we talk to a new food ingredient company, I will always ask them to send me some of the product samples they send to customers. What I get back is an array of plastic baggies and jars, mostly in brown cardboard boxes. Many have poor labeling, or none at all, and they almost never have a company logo or identity added to the sample containers.

This is a missed opportunity to communicate directly with some of your most important customers and prospects—especially when you’ve managed to get your product into your customer’s hands. Design your product sample packaging with your company logo, and utilize targeted sales messaging to reinforce your identity and the value of your product.

We’ve seen several food ingredient companies have great success with this type of sampling program. Some have extended their programs to include e-mail follow-ups and online sales campaigns that create ongoing customer communications. You can see an example of one of these programs here.

Targeted customer communications, like these product sampling programs, are a great way to get your customers engaged in a dialogue on how your ingredients can add value to their products. We’ll continue to share examples from other food ingredient companies in our blog posts.

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